Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, hockey writer Katie Strang stops by to chat about the latest news from around ice.
In addition to covering the NHL as a whole, Strang, who previously covered the Islanders for Newsday, also covers the Rangers, Isles and Devils for ESPNNewYork.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Send your questions now and join Strang Friday at 2 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (2:00 PM)
Hello from Philadelphia and Happy Friday! Hope you have been enjoying a pretty incredible week of playoff hockey as much as I have. No other time quite like it, though I have to admit these West Coast starts have me a little sleep-deprived. Let's catch up on all that has happened and take your questions for all that lies ahead.Fire away, gang.
Ed (Queens Village)
Is it time for Pens to bench Fleury?
Katie Strang (2:03 PM)
Ahh, yes. It's that time of year. You know the playoffs have arrived when we are broaching the topic of a Marc- Andre Fleury implosion. While his costly mistakes were nothing short of cringe-worthy in the Pens OT loss in Game 4 against CBJ, I'm not sure they can bench him quite yet. Had they brought in a reliable backup? Sure. But Jeff Zatkoff does not seem to be the answer, either. If nothing else, Bylsma has to be inclined to give Fleury nothing more than a short leash in Game 5. If Pens blow this, Bylsma's job is in trouble. Really hard to believe that Fleury's teammates have confidence with him back there in goal
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
Who do you think will be the 2013-2014 Stanley Cup Champions?
Katie Strang (2:04 PM)
Not surprised one bit that the Detroit Red Wings are giving them trouble in what has been a pretty compelling first-round series, but I still think the Boston Bruins win it all. They have the entire package.
What is with all the blown leads? Is it a function of the distribution of talent, lazy play or have I just wandered into an episode of The Twilight Zone?
Katie Strang (2:05 PM)
I honestly don't know. It has been remarkable. Wish I had an explanation, but I don't. I feel like it's never really safe to turn the channel!
you mentioned prior to the series that the flyers' forward depth is their advantage, but i don't think that has proven to be true. giroux, hartnell and simmonds have yet to excel offensively, while the rangers' 4 lines are rolling so far. they even looked good in game 2, but emery stopped the last 29 (i think) shots he faced.
Katie Strang (2:07 PM)
Jake- You are correct, sir. The Flyers are indeed not getting nearly enough from their top offensive weapons and, by contrast, the Rangers are getting well-balanced contributions throughout their lineup. Limiting Claude Giroux to a mere two shots on goal has been huge, and you really get the sense that they are pressing. Credit to Rangers D there; they have really contained Philly to a large degree. PK has also been critical
can we get a scouting report on mason? emery couldn't go side to side quick enough. what's mason's weakness? and how different is it facing a lefty vs righty goaltender?
Katie Strang (2:10 PM)
Not sure I know of a specific weakness technically, but I think there is something to be said for Mason's relative lack of experience in the playoffs, not to mention his utter lack of success. How will he handle the pressure? We'll find out tonight. He's got the edge on Emery in both size and mobility, but he also provides the Flyers with another helpful dynamic in his ability to handle the puck well, too. Could make a significant difference, especially with the Flyers' struggles activating from the back end
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Katie - Montreal won their series in 4 and San Jose is up 3-0, what are pros and cons of winning a series so early and having to wait for your next opponent who may have to play 2 or 3 more games ?
Katie Strang (2:11 PM)
You might lose a bit of momentum, I guess. When you're playing that well, you want to keep things rolling. The upside being that you have time to get guys rest and remain fresh.
bob nj [via mobile]
hi katie is dylan mcilrath going to be another hugh jessiman a first round bust thoughts?
Katie Strang (2:12 PM)
I think that's a bit premature. He's had some unfortunate injuries, and those have been the main hindrance in his development thus far
Which team has been your biggest surprise thus far?
Katie Strang (2:13 PM)
Even though I picked them as my pre-season Stanley Cup Champs, I did not expect San Jose to dominate the Kings so thoroughly. Granted, the series isn't over yet, but they've been impressive. Maybe this really is the year. Getting Torres and Hertl back has been huge
While hockey purists will be hoping for a Boston - Pittsburgh matchup in the ECF, I picked the Canadiens to go to the finals in my hockey pool. I didn't anticipate they'd brush off Tampa as they did, but I think the confidence they've gained from that series could help them knock off Boston. Thoughts?
Katie Strang (2:15 PM)
Of anyone in the East, Montreal has the best chance of knocking off the Bruins and pulling off the upset. I badly underestimated the Habs and I'm seeing that now. Playing with energy and speed and skill and confidence.
Flavor of the day seems to be the playoffs, but the Vezina finalists were announced this morning. Bishop, Rask and Varlamov, who do you have winning?
Katie Strang (2:15 PM)
I had Rask in my projections. My opinion stands
Jack (Springfield, Massachusetts)
Hi Katie! How would you rate the officiating in the post-season so far? Has it REALLY been as bad as it seems, or are we just getting the benefit of more and better camera angles after the fact?
Katie Strang (2:16 PM)
Pretty brutal. Inconsistency being my biggest gripe
Gene Mullett (Cowtown, OH)
Kudos for picking CBJ over PGH! Do you have an opinion of someone on the CBJ wearing the C? They score by committee & they lead as such. Seems to be working pretty good.
Katie Strang (2:18 PM)
They have been so, so impressive. Glad I picked them even if they don't end up edging out the Pens. What an experience for this club and a big step moving forward. And how about those Blue Jackets fans? Blown away by how terrific they have been. Dying to see a playoff game there now, though I'll admit that my previous experiences with that damn cannon have not been pleasant. Scares the living crap out of me every time!
How many game 7's will we see in round 1 and name them?
Katie Strang (2:19 PM)
Kent (White Plains)
Rangers currently have no captain, are they going to pick one during the post season or put it off until the summer? Any candidates? maybe Marc Staal
Katie Strang (2:20 PM)
I think they will wait until the off-season and I strongly suspect it will be Ryan McDonagh. If Staal sticks around and wants to stay a Ranger rather than play with his brothers in CAR he will definitely remain one of the key leaders of the team
Rob F (Toronto)
Hi Katie. There is supposed to be a big announcement on Monday from the caps about the direction of the team. What do you think will be said? Is it more likely to be management or coaching? Or both? Thanks
Katie Strang (2:21 PM)
I don't see either McPhee or Oates surviving.
The starting goaltender for the New York Islanders in their final season opener at Nassau Coliseum will be...?
Katie Strang (2:21 PM)
Oh wow, that's a tough one. And a great one. Just for fun, I will say James Reimer
Katie, give me your top 5 teams in the playoffs in terms of depth.
Katie Strang (2:22 PM)
Not to take away anything from the Bruins--who have been nothing short of outstanding thus far--but do the Wings look a bit star-struck to you? Last night they finally seemed to put their nose to the grindstone and come out with some energy, but it seems to me that the young guys in particular have been a little playoff-giddy of late and it has led to some sloppy play. Your thoughts?
Katie Strang (2:24 PM)
Mike Babcock has admitted as much. That their kids looked a bit liked kids and haven't done enough to make Tuukka Rask work. That's not surprising considering their youth. Fine line between youthful energy/enthusiasm and experience. Truth is you need both in the playoffs. Curious to see how Zetterberg performs in Game 5. Could really help the Wings if he is able to make an impact
Katie, there's one issue that has bothered me for years, and needs addressing NOW! When did the home team stop wearing their white jerseys in their own rink? This coloured jersey at home thing is all wrong. The good guys should always wear white!
Katie Strang (2:25 PM)
Strongly disagree. Also, I like the shootout. There I said it
Does Columbus come out of the first round alive?
Katie Strang (2:25 PM)
Sticking with my pick: yep. Blue Jackets or Bust.
Do you actually watch the pens- jackets games? Fleury hands down has been there best player so far in the playoffs. The only reason then pens were in game 4 was because of fleury. I agree that he deserves alot of blame for the loss and also the bashing he has been recieving, but his teamates have no confidence in him? cmon man! how about no confidence in letang, just awful, and crosby + malkin = 0 goals......
Katie Strang (2:28 PM)
Oh, I certainly agree with you that their stars deserve some of the blame. Quite frankly, Crosby and Malkin are being outplayed. And you are also correct in pointing out that Fleury was sensational up until the last few minutes of the game. But that's not enough. If he is still making those critical errors in crunch time, that's a problem. Especially when this has been a trend the last few years in the playoffs. Might not be entirely fair, but it's true.
Who will (also who should) start in net for the Ducks tonight?
Katie Strang (2:28 PM)
Anderson is getting the start, according to local reporters. I'd go with Jon Gibson, to be honest.
Matt Cooke again making headlines for the wrong reasons, did you feel 7 games was too lenient as a repeat offender, or was that just because it's the postseason?
Katie Strang (2:30 PM)
Conventional wisdom, Ted, is that one playoff game equals two regular-season games so by that token Cooke was suspended for 14 games. I thought that was about right, but I feel sick about Tyson Barrie's playoffs ending, so I'd have had no problem for Cooke being done for the post-season as well
pete (nova scotia)
will pilly need extra time to win tonite
Katie Strang (2:31 PM)
No, I have the feeling they tie the series up in regulation tonight. Still think this one goes 6. The way Zac Rinaldo was talking this morning, I expect it to get pretty nasty tonight, and that plays into Philly's favor
Do you like the new playoff format or do you think an old school 1-16 seeded format would be better?
Katie Strang (2:32 PM)
As much as it was confusing to wrap my head around initially, I don't mind it. Sort of ambivalent about it. We are seeing some great hockey and some great match-ups so I'm satisfied
Geoff (Easton, PA)
Speaking of cheap shots... think Matt Read got away with disciplinary action on his elbow to Carcillo in Game 3? If it were, lets say a Rick Nash... does the league give it a look?
Katie Strang (2:33 PM)
I think if it was Dan Girardi rather than Dan Carcillo, then yes, it would've likely been subject to supplementary discipline
I noticed you didn't pick the Wild/Avs to go 7 in a recent answer. Thoughts on that series after the Wild's dominating performance at home?
Katie Strang (2:34 PM)
With the loss of Barrie and the way that Minny just absolutely dominated Avs last night, I see them taking hold of the series from here on out. Wild in 6
Scott (Hamden, CT)
Any chance the Flyers play C Scott Laughton tonight? He just ended his QMJHL season and was called up.
Katie Strang (2:34 PM)
No, I don't think we will see him. Believe he is skating with the black aces. Could be a possibility in future but doubtful tonight
Speaking of Ducks goalies...does Anaheim finally hand the reigns to Gibson full time next season? He's ready. I saw him play in junior and he's the studliest of studs.
Katie Strang (2:35 PM)
Haha, that is quite the qualifier. I definitely think he is the goaltender of the future for them and will get his shot to prove that next season
off the subject? but can you tell me where to nominate a top 10 play? please?
Katie Strang (2:36 PM)
I believe if you tweet out a play using the hashtag #SCTop10 that will work.
Brittany (Flyers Nation)
Berube has done a phenomenal job turning around the Flyers. Why was Berube successful in implementing his system whereas Lavy failed miserably?
Katie Strang (2:37 PM)
Sometimes you just need a new voice. Berube is honest and well-liked by his players. Maybe they just needed a change. He's done a really great job
Ryan (New York) [via mobile]
Hey Katie! I always try to get a chance to send you a question, here we go! My question is regarding free agency, who do you see the rangers picking up and who will they resign besides zucc and hopefully pouliot? Thank you!!
Katie Strang (2:39 PM)
Man, Pouliot has been one of the most cost-effective signings. And I must say, I did not think I'd have been typing those words had you asked me back in November. Zuccarello a must, obviously. They need to start working on an extension for Staal July 1. And I could see them targeting a guy like Matt Moulson in free agency
Josh (Long Island)
Will Brad Richards be bought out in the summer? He is having a bit of a renaissance this year, but is he worth his salary?
Katie Strang (2:40 PM)
The decision will come down to whether the Rangers feel like he can play at this level until the expiry of his nine-year contract. If he retires before then, they are in line for some whopping cap recapture benefits.
Your view on the top play of the playoffs so far?
Katie Strang (2:41 PM)
Not one particular play, but I think Brandon Dubinsky has had a sensational series for the Blue Jackets. Has been really fun to watch him vs. Crosby
Alan Moskowitz (Las Vegas, Nv)
what is latest on Kris Kreider. Will he be ready for 2nd round???
Katie Strang (2:42 PM)
I think so, yes. He skated with the extras this morning but has yet to join the team for a full practice.
Eric (cali) [via mobile]
Why did you change your cup winner to boston from San Jose go sharks!
Katie Strang (2:42 PM)
Good question! Kicking myself arghhh!
Is there a more 'clutch' player than Patrick Kane?
Katie Strang (2:44 PM)
Patrick "I think I've had a couple" Kane? No argument here, Mike
How do you like the Flyers chances tonight? Mason received a lot of guff in Philly for not saying that he wanted the start even though he was healthy. I don't the starting goalie would have made a difference especially with NY blocking 20+ shots. I would personally like to see the Flyers D fire some shots wide and see if they can get some tips or bounces off the end boards what are your thoughts on the game tonight?
Katie Strang (2:45 PM)
I think he was just trying to be a good teammate and support Ray Emery. Look for the Flyers to try and be a bit better with shot selection tonight: some pump fakes, shots wide, deflection attempts. They've got to get more shots through and one-timing the puck off a pass isn't getting the job done vs. Rangers' shot-blockers
Hi Katie - from an outsiders point of view, are refs playing favorites for teams\players?
Katie Strang (2:47 PM)
When it comes to refs, I usually chalk up the inconsistency to incompetence rather than actual favoritism
How do you think the Niemi vs. Quick matchup will continue to play out. They have both looked shaky at times.
Katie Strang (2:48 PM)
Wouldn't be shocked by an appearance by either backup before the series is over
Thank you for your response! And i mostly agree with you, i just think more blame needs to be shared by the team. Side note, I was at both games in Columbus and those fans were pretty awesome. It was hard to even be too angry with them after the game.
Katie Strang (2:49 PM)
Haha, you are a good sport Ryan. Enjoy the rest of the series :)
Which team has been the big surprise so far? Any upset picks for the first round needing a reconsideration?
Katie Strang (2:50 PM)
Have been impressed by Dallas. Wish I'd have given them more credit. Like there team a lot, and not just their stars. Role players getting the job done too.
Barry Trotz (Nashville)
What's the housing market like in Pittsburgh?
Katie Strang (2:51 PM)
Not sure, but word on the street is you already have some nice digs in B.C. Those could come in handy real soon ...
joe (cubicle hell)
did Jimmy Howard really have the flu last night?
Katie Strang (2:52 PM)
As opposed to ... ?
If Seattle gets an expansion team that would be a pretty sweet place to go to - no state income taxes! That adds up with a $1M+ salary per year.
Katie Strang (2:53 PM)
Florida also has those favorable tax laws, though I'm not sure if they are the exact same. But that's one reason I would not be shocked to see Ryan Callahan re-sign with the Lighnting
Baxter (Parts Unkown, WI)
Dominic Moore... what a story huh? Loses his wife and takes a bunch of time off from hockey and comes back and doesn't miss a beat with the Rangers this season. I'm so glad he came back....
Katie Strang (2:53 PM)
Simply incredible. Very happy for him.
Katie Strang (2:54 PM)
And on that note, we will end it there. Thanks all for joining me and have a great weekend! Can't wait to touch base next week!